Height: 6.500 cm
Gift of Messrs. Rundell and Bridge
Room 49: Roman Britain
Silver statuette of Harpocrates
Roman Britain, 1st-2nd century AD
River Thames at London Bridge
An Egyptian god as a universal Roman deity
The figure, a naked child with a finger to his mouth, depicts the Egyptian god Horus as a young boy. Horus was the son of the great mother-goddess Isis and Osiris. The cult of Isis spread throughout the Roman Empire, and there is evidence that there was a temple dedicated to her in London. Isis and her son (known to the Romans as Harpocrates) were often depicted with the attributes of other major gods and goddesses, as universal deities. In this statuette, Harpocrates is shown with the wings of Cupid, a vine-wreath and crescent in his hair, and accompanied by a dog and a tortoise. The hawk by his feet is his animal manifestation in Egyptian mythology.
The statuette is cast in silver, and the gold chain and ring suggest that it may have been worn as an amulet, though it would have been large and heavy for this purpose.
T.W. Potter, Roman Britain, 2nd edition (London, The British Museum Press, 1997)